For many of us, premenstrual cravings are just a part of life: our estrogen levels dip before a period and we’re suddenly way more interested in salty and sugary food – and have a lot less willpower to resist it.
Of course, you’re free to indulge yourself. But if you’re fed up with feeling exhausted, grumpy, and bloated on your period, you might want to check out the list below to find out which foods and drinks to avoid on your period – and why.
Sure, it’s life fuel, but when coffee wears off, you’re likely to feel more lethargic and depressed than before. Plus, caffeine restricts blood vessels, which makes cramping worse, and speeds up your digestive system, causing diarrhea.
While soda might be your go-to when you need a pick-me-up, these caffeine filled cans definitely (sadly) qualify as drinks to avoid on your period. If it contains caffeine, you’ll have the same issues as coffee, but with the added benefits of bloating, gassiness, and increased sugar cravings.
FRIES (AND CHIPS)
Potato-based products packed with salt are a common craving and for good reason – they’re delicious. But they not only make you more bloated, your body quickly breaks them down, leading to blood sugar swings that increase moodiness and lethargy in the long run.
PASTA (AND RICE)
The white versions are refined, which sounds like a good thing but just means all the healthy fiber has been stripped away. Like chips and fries, they’re quickly turned into sugar by the body, so will initially make you more energetic, then you’ll feel moody and sluggish and start to crave them again.
Sure, they’re a quick and easy fix when you want to curl up on the couch with Riverdale and a heat pad. But like other highly-processed food (including pasta sauces and supermarket ramen), they’re high in salt and chemicals that increase bloating, making you sluggish and prone to dehydration.
Any meat with a high fat content can increase prostaglandins – naturally-occurring substances in the body which activate its auto-immune response, which causes inflammation and increases cramping. Choose lean beef and pork rather than store-bought burgers, sausages, or bacon.
Like red meat, full-fat dairy (particularly milk and cheese) causes an increase in prostaglandins, and thus increases your chances of period pain. Lighter options like cottage cheese and skim milk are a better choice.
I know. It instantly lifts your mood and raises your energy levels, but as with other processed, sugar-filled foods, the comedown is painful. It’s true that chocolate might be helpful during menstruation, because it contains magnesium, which helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar, but we’re only talking about a couple of squares of dark chocolate.
Sometimes it’s the only thing to look forward to after a long, achy, day. But while booze might take the edge off your pain, it can also increase estrogen, leading to mood swings and potentially irregular cycles. It can also make you retain water, making bloating worse. Ideally stick to one small glass a day, and drink it with a meal (popcorn doesn’t count).
None of us is perfect, and you might not be able to stick to all of these recommendations while your hormones are raging and your taste buds are craving. But plan ahead, have some healthy options on hand, and know which foods and drinks to avoid on your period. You might just find you have fewer symptoms and less stress next time around.